Brady and Belichick, via La Sportsa Nostra
When you sit back and think about all the success the New England Patriots have had, it's no wonder fans outside of New England hate the Patriots. Here's a look at what they've done since the Brady era began 14 seasons ago.

-12 Division titles (lost tie-breaker after going 11-5 in Brady-less 2008 season)
-9 AFC Championship appearances
-6 Super Bowl appearances
-3 Super Bowl victories

It is truly remarkable what this team has done in the Salary Cap era. No team in the history of the league has enjoyed this level of success for this long of a time. We've had success with teams that, on paper, probably shouldn't have been that good. We've won with defense, we've won with offense...and it's all credit to Bill Belichick and his staff.

We have the greatest coach in the history of the game. Yes, better than Vince Lombardi. It's the sustained success that sets Bill apart from any other coach, and there's really nothing more to say. For 14 seasons, the Patriots have been a threat to win a Super Bowl. It certainly doesn't hurt that in 2000, Belichick and his staff decided to take a chance in the sixth round of the NFL Draft on a QB from Michigan.

Tom Brady. What else is there to say. All-time postseason leader in wins, touchdown passes, and passing yards. The greatest quarterback of our generation. He cemented his legacy long ago, but he just continues to add to it. The snow game touchdown spike, the final drive in Super Bowl 36, the shootout against Carolina in Super Bowl 38, and most recently, leading the Patriots from down 14 TWICE against the Ravens. Tom Brady, like Peyton Manning, absolutely dominates as a frontrunner. But unlike Manning, Brady has the ability to make the big play when the team needs it the most. Brady has had this success with a revolving door of receivers...having to throw to the likes of all-timers like Randy Moss and duds like Reche Caldwell. His go to receiver on the final drive of Super Bowl 36 was JR Redmond, who did absolutely nothing besides that (I know he's a running back). One has to wonder that maybe Brady being a unknown himself at one point has helped his chemistry with other unknown receivers. It is amazing that he fell into our lap in the 6th round.

Words will never do justice what the Patriots and its fans have gotten to experience. We're spoiled, we really are. The younger fans don't know what it's like to go 10 seasons without a playoff appearance. Most fans around the NFL probably laughed when we felt like the sky was falling after starting the season 2-2. On February 1st, there's more that can happen besides winning a Super Bowl. Brady can establish himself as the greatest quarterback of all time, without much argument. Belichick can establish himself (if he hasn't already) as the greatest coach of all time, with no argument. Kraft can go down as the greatest owner. In a league where rosters are ever-changing, the Patriots have kept their core, the owner, the coach, and the quarterback, not just good, but great. There truly is greatness in this organization, unlike anything we've ever seen before, and it shows no signs of stopping.

In the meantime, let's not think about when this unparalleled run might come to and end. Appreciate it. Enjoy it. Enjoy every second of it, because whenever it does come to an end, we will never see anything like it, at least not in our lifetime. We might see it in bursts of 5, even 10 years...but not this long. When we're old and gray and look back on our Patriots of old, we won't just define this era as great...we will define it as legendary.

In closing, I hope all of you fans out there in Patriots Nation understand that no matter what happens, we will have witnessed two legends. Not just greats, not just Hall of Famers...but legends. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will have reached untouchable status...the Mount Rushmore of the NFL. It is truly special.

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Brian Thibodeau 1/20/2015 11:12:00 AM Edit

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